Chicken curry and two beers at a fancy restaurant in Vancouver paid for by the mining industry. I discussed with my co-diner: education of mining engineers; shutting down university departments of mining engineering; the ethics of mining, blogs on mining; and the concept and practice of sustainable mining. None of it very serious other than the fact that mining graduates now get three to four offers at bigger and bigger salaries. I noted that I do not believe there is a shortage of mining industry professionals; at least I will not believe there is a shortage until such time as I, a retired engineer with umpteen years in mining, get an offer of a large salary from an international mining company with lots of exciting travel. Seems to me there is simply a lack of initiative and imagination in seeking out and hiring experience. I know it is always cheaper to hire new graduates, and to the extent you cannot find them, blame the universities for not producing them, and thereby justify working your existing staff just a little harder in the absence of sufficient staffing?

Back from lunch to this computer where the screen brought up the Mines & Communities Website—one of those sites devoted to anti-mining perspectives. To their credit, they describe InfoMine thus in the links section: “InfoMine Inc is a privately owned Canadian company, and according to the Mining Journal, probably the most comprehensive mining information site, although not all of the information is free. It has links to numerous companies and countries, and includes sites run by organizations critical of the industry.” Hence in an infinitely repetitive do-loop, I write about them here.

Infinite curiosity about mining and a firm belief in the adversarial system (the essence of the USA legal and socio-political system) drove me to a long time roaming this site. Certainly, you can find a reference on this site to almost any country, to almost any issue, and to any one of the innumerable anti-mining pages on the web. Almost conspiratorial on my part to be reading all this opposition, considering that last night I had dinner with Canadian aristocrats. You know the type—large house in the best suburb, private schools for the kids, eastern universities, and then the kids work for government organizations espousing socialistic views. And all of this paid for by the father’s good job with a mining company. No wonder there is a constant cry from the mining industry that the young are not entering the industry. Maybe it is just the sad echo of fathers like the one that financed this family: he was always away at some distant mine, never saw his kids, grew distant from his wife, and the rest is history, a foreign mistress, and divorce. Little wonder his kid chose not to follow him into the mining industry, but choose to work to “fix” society.

The USA comes of lightly on Mines & Communities Website. Only two articles against mining in all of 2006. And really neither is about mining. One article is about the cement industry and the other about lead in Rhode Island. Sorry the stories are not listed by date—so down the way I found 2006 stories on climate change, stock fraud in London, and the controversy about selling or retaining national stockpiles of mercury. This is hardly gut-stuff mining, so maybe all is well in USA mining, even from an NGO’s perspective?

As for Africa, I took a quick look at that pariah of societies, Zimbabwe only to find this

“Locals are questioning the benefits. Instead of boosting employment in Africa, [Chinese companies] tend to select their employees from their own bloated and underemployed workforce, leading to growing local resentment". That's the opinion of an industry insider, quoted in an article by David Stanway published by Interfax China news. Chinese diplomats met with representatives of no less than 48 African states in Beijing. It was an exercise in reassurance - and self promotion. Says Stanway: "Despite the historical ties that China has forged with Africa since the celebrated Bandung Conference in 1955, and despite a number of fresh humanitarian commitments relating to debt forgiveness and more investment in the education and health of Africa's worst-off communities, China's true motives in the continent have come under intense scrutiny...Behind all the carefully honed declarations about China's commitments to the continent, it is its "mutually beneficial" interest in African resources that has received the most attention. China's soft power is being employed to gain access to hard raw materials. China has been investing in oil and mineral projects where "few others would dare to tread."

Hardly new or insightful. Maybe this site needs a blogger to put perspective on the news, rather than posting repetitive tirades of tired old stuff. Then at least I would have something controversial to share and debate with the lords and aristocrats of mining. And certainly I would have something fresh to argue with the young on how to reform China and bring decency to African society.